Ph.D. Program Requirements

The requirements for the Ph.D. degree fall into four basic categories.

  • Course work
  • Comprehensive examinations
  • Dissertation
  • Additional Requirements

The Department does not have a foreign language requirement.

Course Work

The course requirements consist of a first-year Core Curriculum, eight second-year electives and a teaching/internship requirement. The Core Curriculum consists of Core courses in microtheory (ECON 7740, ECON 7741), macrotheory (ECON 7750, ECON 7751), mathematics for economists (ECON 7720), statistics (ECON 7770) and econometrics (ECON 7772). The second year is devoted to electives. In addition to the Department's own electives, students may take courses in the Carroll School of Management's Ph.D. program in finance and in other departments of Boston College. BC is involved in a consortium arrangement with Boston University, Brandeis University, and Tufts University whereby students at one institution may cross-register for one course per term at any other. Requests for transfer of credits earned at other institutions or for acceptance of courses taken in other departments of BC are handled on an individual basis. Our general policy is to accept course work taken outside the department only if the work is judged to be comparable in quality to our own and appropriate for a Ph.D. in economics.

Comprehensive Exams

All students are required to pass written comprehensive examinations in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and in two of the following fields:

  • Advanced Micro Theory
  • Advanced Macro and Monetary Economics
  • Econometrics
  • Industrial Organization
  • International Trade and Political Economy
  • International Finance and Macroeconomics
  • Labor Economics
  • Finance

Each exam is based on a two-course sequence on the subject matter. The micro and macro comprehensives are offered twice a year, in late May and late August. Students generally take them immediately after the first year and begin to write field comprehensives at the end of the second year. Please consult the Ph.D. Program: Academic Policies and Procedures brochure for specific details of the comprehensive fields.


The third year of study is devoted to the formulation and development of a thesis topic with attendance at the weekly thesis workshop. The thesis is written under the supervision of a committee of three faculty members: a director chosen by the student and two readers agreed upon by the student and the director. The thesis is approved when it is successfully defended before the committee in an oral examination. As in any Ph.D. program the ultimate time to completion varies considerably. The Department expects every student to be well-prepared to enter the job market in January of the fifth year of full-time study. Although there are exceptions students should expect to spend a minimum of four years of full-time study in order to complete the degree.

Additional Requirements

Residence Requirement:

Each Ph.D. student must spend at least one academic year as a full-time student at Boston College.

Economics Practicum:

All students in the Ph.D. program must either teach one economics course (undergraduate or graduate) outside of BC or hold an off–campus internship position (paid or unpaid) for the duration of at least one but not more than two semesters. Only the Director of Graduate Studies may waive this requirement.

The Research and Scholarship Integrity Program:

Scholars and researchers at all levels of training and experienc face ethical issues that arise over the course of their professional practice. Integral to the formation of professional identity is an awareness and understanding of what responsible re­search and scholarship entails and the obstacles that might hinder the responsible conduct of research and scholarship. To this end the Office of the Vice Provost for Research has developed the Research and Scholarship Integrity (RSI) program to familiarize students and postdoctoral fellows with professional best practices and ethical issues they may encounter.

The RSI program is required of all doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows who began their doctoral studies/work in the 2015-16 academic year and later. It is also required of any student and postdoctoral fellow who is receiving or has received any NIH or NSF funding.

The RSI program contains two parts: the General Session and the Seminar Series, which can be completed in any order. The General Session consists of both Part 1 and Part 2. Attendance at both is required for completion. To complete the Seminar Series component attendance at four seminars is required. Both parts should be completed within your first two years at BC. Please see the website: for additional details, full program schedule, and registration. Any changes to the RSI program and its requirements will be updated in the Handbook.